The Valencia girls basketball team had played four games in four days, and the players were starting to feel it. Hart, on the other hand, had with fresh legs and a scrappy mindset.
It took the Vikings three quarters to truly shake the Indians, but Valencia was able to pull off a 64-42 win on Friday night at Hart.
“We just keep in mind a win always feels good and it’s just like, remembering getting tired is mostly mental so you’ve got to keep going in games,” said senior Yasmine Ahllamara, “and you just remember the little things like shooting with legs and getting low on defense, things like that and then it becomes more of a routine. You kind of get over it.”
Hart (4-16 overall, 3-4 in Foothill League) showed off a vicious defense in the first quarter and kept pace with the Vikings and, at one point, tied it at 10-10. But the Vikes (13-10, 7-0) soon got the lead back and Audrey Field made a layup with five seconds left in the frame for a 15-12 advantage.
“They were active on defense and our communication for the first quarter was pretty good and we were getting there on time and so they were taking harder shots,” said Hart coach Terra Palmer.
Ahllamara made a 3-pointer to open the second quarter, but Emily Munoz made a three of her own to give Hart a 19-18 lead two minutes later. Allhamara had another trey shortly after to make it 21-21.
A series of plays that involved a layup from Mailey Ballard and a free throw and 3-pointer from Audrey Field gave Valencia some breathing room at 29-23.
“I think it’s about matching energy,” Ahllamara said. “We know they’re going to come out scrappy, it’s just on us to make sure we put our hundred (percent), like if there’s a loose ball, we should be diving just as much as they are, it’s just about matching the level of aggressiveness.”
Ballard went on a scoring run that consisted of two free throws and two straight layups to start the third quarter.
Then, as part of a bench corps that came up big all night, sophomore Jasmine Glover scored four points on a layup and a jumper to put Valencia up 47-32.
“The bench players, we were very effective today,” Glover said. “We did as much as we could, got some points on the board, rebounds, defensive stops. Everyone overall did great today.”
Added Honaker about the bench: “They’re all giving us a solid, great opportunities and give us time to rest our people, so they’re all starters in my book.”
Throughout the game, Munoz was the motor for Hart, with support from Emma Allen. Munoz made a layup with 5:40 left in the game and was part of a defense that forced the Vikes to run the shot clock out two minutes later.
“Emily is amazing. She’s so funny because she doesn’t realize how effective she is,” Palmer said. “She has nights where she just takes over the game and she doesn’t even realize. Any game like this we need somebody that’s going to step up, put the ball in the basket, make plays defensively and she does a really nice job of taking on that role.”
“And then Emma, who is in my opinion, quietly one of the best players in the league. She’s capable of scoring from outside, she’s capable of scoring from inside, she’s got excellent court vision. She creates a lot of opportunities for us that she doesn’t get credit for.”
The Indians’ Madison Knight drained a 3-pointer with a minute left in the game, then Valencia’s Skylar Ingram made a layup to seal the win.
Ballard paced the Vikings with 17 points, followed by Ahllamara with 12. Skyler Ingram added eight points and 15 rebounds.
Allen had six points and five rebounds for Hart, which plays at Canyon on Friday.
Valencia is still undefeated in Foothill League play and next plays at West Ranch on Friday.
“If you hang too much on like how many wins you have, it’s like, being arrogant is dangerous,” Ahllamara said of her team’s undefeated record. “So I think it’s important just to keep fresh and never underestimate anybody and just play every (game) like a new game and it’s your last.”
Saugus 74, West Ranch 24
Libbie McMahan scored 20 points for Saugus (21-3, 5-2), while Monique Febles scored 15. Eden MacKenzie chipped in nine points.
Also for the Centurions, Evie Rodriguez added six points, Lorita Slalom had six and Faith Pearson had four points and six rebounds.
Saugus hosts Golden Valley on Friday and West Ranch (3-19, 0-7) will host Valencia.
Canyon 56, Golden Valley 55
The Cowboys move to 13-12 overall and 5-2 in league with the win. Golden Valley is 9-13 and 1-6.
For Golden Valley, Shyann Franklin scored 25 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. Imani McGee scored 15 points and had four rebounds, Cassandra Ortiz had 14 points and five steals and Ayana Peterson Henry had seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks.